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Showing posts from July, 2010

Longfellow: The Children's Hour

The Children's Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O …

On Childhood: Before the "Dark Hour of Reason"

"Childhood," said English poet John Betjeman, "is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows." Indeed, poems about childhood seem colored by innocence and naiveté, memories that make the rooms of a house more grand, the shadows near the bed at night more horrifying. In these works, poets document remembered people, places, and pastimes with an attention that children have for the world before ritual and maturity strips life of its daily magic.

In "A Replica of the Parthenon," for example, Mark Doty recounts a game he and a neighbor girl played without understanding the profound meaning of what they were doing:

Every night we took turns dying.
One would lie down while the other
folded the corpse's hands and,
with the true solemnity of children,
brought flowers.

In "A Happy Childhood," William Matthews captures another aspect of one’s early years: that not all memories are true. "It turns out you ar…

Glimmer Train Short Fiction Contest


Deadline: July 31


1st place wins $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies.

2nd-place: $500 and possible publication.

3rd-place: $300 and possible publication.

Other considerations:

Open to all writers.Length not to exceed 3,000 words. Any shorter lengths are welcome.Reading fee is $15 per story.Results post on September 30. Winning story will be published in Issue 81.Editors' Take on Very Short Fiction Submissions.

The First Ruler: Part 2

Alice C. Linsley

(To read Part One, go here.)

Ra's Morning at the Tree of Life

Ra was a tall man with black hair and reddish brown skin. His eyes were like chunks of agate, a dark honey color. His hands were strong. Once he had killed a giant cobra with his bare hands.  He also was adept at weaving rope from grasses and making baskets from reeds. His large hands were capable of gentle handling of precious things like his son Ka and the fragile ostrich egg that he used for his daily prayers.

Ra said his prayers every morning. He came down from his cave in the hills to the edge of the lake and stood under an ancient tree with large grey roots only half buried under the ground. The roots were twisted so that from certain angles they looked like snakes rising up from the earth. Ra often sat on one of these roots while he waited for the first rays of light to flicker across the horizon. The great roots were like an elephant’s trunk, sucking water from the lake.  Ra thought that this …

Mark Twain 100 Years Later

by Father Steven Reilly, LC

As Hemingway put it, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” Even as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ death this year, the novels he wrote as Mark Twain still hold an envied place in the annals of literature.

A great writer, and also a complex personality, Twain was the premier humorist of his day — the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts gives an annual award for humor named after him. Yet the laughter often carried a tinge of cynicism. He viewed the world with a jaundiced eye. Life, after all, had dealt him heavy blows, particularly with the deaths of his beloved wife, Olivia, and two of his daughters in their 20s.

Love for Joan of Arc

As for faith, generally he believed in an afterlife, but often it was conflicted and frequently wavering (“Faith is believing in what you know ain’t so.”). Still, Catholics may be impressed to know that Twain said that he liked his 1896…